Posted by: SJS | October 14, 2020

TR – Wild courage, laser focus, rough and ready. A total non-loser and Nana Stahley’s hero.

Col. Theodore Roosevelt of the First US Volunteer Calvary in the Spanish American War

My grandmother Mary Agnes Stahley, idolized President Theodore Roosevelt (aka TR). As I child, I loved to hear Nana Stahley tell the stories of “Teddy” Roosevelt and the Rough Riders and their exploits in Cuba during the Spanish-American War. The famous attack of the Rough Riders up San Juan Hill had become the stuff of legend by the time of Nana’s birth in 1905.

After his service leading the First Volunteer Cavalry during the Spanish-American War, Roosevelt was elected the Governor of New York. In 1900, he joined the Republican presidential ticket as William McKinley’s Vice Presidential candidate. Following McKinley’s death from an assassin’s bullet in 1901, TR became president at the age of 42. His political career was marked by vigorous anti-corruption work, forward looking environmental policies, and the receipt of the Nobel Prize for peace for negotiating an end to the Russo-Japanese War in 1906.

And that’s just for starters when it comes to TR’s accomplishments.

As a young adolescent, doing her best to survive during the flu pandemic of 1918 and take care of her five younger siblings after the death of their mother, the example of Teddy Roosevelt inspired my grandmother and gave her a leader to emulate–and did she ever. Nana not only survived the pandemic, she made sure that all of her siblings survived as well. All of them–Bill, Peg, George (Reds), Catherine (Cass) and Joe went on to live productive, prosperous lives.

To me, Nana’s life was an embodiment of the spirit that Teddy Roosevelt brought into American life in the earliest days of the twentieth century. That spirit was defined by it’s hard-charging, keep-moving-forward, don’t-look-back ethos that stiffened the spines of so many Americans who were overwhelmed with twin realities of the First World War and the flu pandemic of 1918.

I know that Nana passed on a generous share of that “TR Moxie” to her son, George Junior, who carried it with him when he enlisted in the US Navy in 1943 and opted for volunteer-only service on the PT boats. The sailors of the Mosquito Fleet were the naval equivalent of TR’s Rough Riders — brash, energetic, edgy, and ready to steer their small boats into the heart of the hottest fights with little regard for the outcome.

I am calling on Nana’s guidance from above to help our nation rise up like Teddy Roosevelt and his soldiers in this election season. We need to serve up one great big ass-kicking to the vulgar hyena in the White House and all his spineless GOP toadies in the Congress and Statehouses across the land.

We can do it.

And we will do it, just like Teddy Roosevelt led his Rough Riders up San Juan Hill to victory in 1898.

Mary A Stahley and her son, George in 1925

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